Year of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Other Degree Name/Area of Focus
Focus in Ecocriticism
Department or School/College
Dr. Kathleen Kane
Dr. Kathleen Kane, Dr. Robert Baker, Dr. Elizabeth A. Hubble
Nabokov, Lolita, Melancholy, Gender, Schiesari, Agamben
University of Montana
Literature in English, North America
This paper argues that in Lolita, the narrator Humbert Humbert uses the subject-position of the great male melancholic in order to, at the discursive level, (re)perform violent acts of appropriation against Dolly’s body, subjectivity and representation. Humbert attempts to translate the loss and waste which he brings about into perverse sorts of gain; these gains relate to processes such as catharsis, compensation, redemption, regeneration, a sense of exceptionality, and aesthetic/erotic/artistic enjoyment. The project has an introduction and two sections. The introduction demonstrates how Humbert enters into the male melancholic subject-position in order to perform his sorrow in a way that threatens to suppress the suffering of others. The first section addresses the manifestations of this gendered form of melancholia in Lolita. It aims to situate and define “gendered melancholy” by tracing a historical sketch of the development of this tradition and then showing how Humbert participates in it. The second section addresses the motivations of this gendered form of melancholia in Lolita. It aims to demonstrate how a masculine form of anxiety undergirds both Humbert’s art and his sense of melancholia, which I then argue is coextensive with his problematic appropriation and suppression of Dolly’s representation.
Brookbank, Joseph D., "Gendered Melancholy in Lolita: Reading into Humbert Humbert’s Dolorous Haze" (2019). Graduate Student Theses, Dissertations, & Professional Papers. 11392.
© Copyright 2019 Joseph D. Brookbank